About the importance of air quality
Air quality has deteriorated significantly in recent years, especially in large cities. The negative effects are reflected in the general state of health and can lead to serious diseases: heart disease, bronchitis, asthma, allergies, etc.).
Smell is one of the indicators of the level of air quality. If an unpleasant odor is being noticed, the source can be identified and eliminated, but other air pollutants (pollen, bacteria, viruses, fine dust, volatile organic compounds, etc.) cannot be detected by the smell.
It should be noted that under 15s can inhale more air because they breathe faster than adults and tend to breathe more through the mouth, inhaling directly various pollutants, bypassing the natural filter of the nose.
Larger suspended particles are most often filtered in the nose and throat and do not cause problems. But smaller particles, measuring about 10 microns, called PM10 and particles smaller than 2.5 microns, known as PM 2.5, can infiltrate the airways and deep into the lungs causing health problems.
These particles represent about 60% of PM10 particles.
The same effects on human health are attributed to PM1 particles, which have a diameter of 1 micron.
People spend 90% of their time indoors, and according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) the levels of indoor pollutants are 2 - 5 times higher than outdoor levels. So, according to the EPA, an air purifier becomes almost indispensable if the indoor areas do not benefit from an air filtration and purification system.
Indoor air pollutants come from different sources and are of two types:
Particulate pollutants include fine dust, animal hair, pollen, mold spores, smoke, bacteria and viruses, while gaseous pollutants include: odors, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and ozone.
For example, building materials and furniture can release toxic fumes that remain in the air.
The same goes for textiles, wall paints, electronic devices, candles, and all kinds of cleaning products – even air fresheners with synthetic perfumes can pollute the air indoors.
These air pollutants have a wide range of sources, including people who release bacteria and viruses into the air while breathing. There is a long list of sources, from nature to chemical agents. Although it is impossible to eliminate any source of pollution from a room, it is nevertheless possible to purify the air as efficiently as possible.
Sources of outdoor air pollution:
● exhaust fumes and incomplete combustion from vehicles
● windblown dust
● road traffic (including tire dust)
● industrial activity
● heating systems
● thermoelectric power plants
Pollutants that are harmful to health and can be removed by the air purifier
Each of the pollutants listed below is considered harmful to people’s health, whether or not they have a specific allergy to it. The only difference is that people who have a sensitivity to a certain contaminant immediately notice the effects, while others may reach a serious health problem due to long-term (and untreated) exposure.
Plant spores and fungi
Bacteria and viruses
Tobacco smoke and smell
Household odors from cooking, pets and chemical cleaners
Toxins from aerosol sprays and pesticides
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in paint, varnishes, cleaning materials, new carpets and construction materials
Unfortunately, it is not enough to purify the polluted air indoors just by opening a window. There is no air purification, but fresh air is brought in from outdoor, bundled with other pollutants.
Depending on where you are, for example, if you live on a main street where exhaust fumes are continuously released, the indoor air will become even more polluted. However, this does not mean that you have to give up ventilating a room in the morning and in the evening.
On the other hand, an air purifier will help improve indoor air quality significantly. These devices filter out most of the particles, fine dust, bacteria, pollen, viruses and animal hair from the air. After filtering or washing, the device evacuates the purified air back to the room. As a result, air quality is significantly improved.
Choosing the right air purifier
The most important factors to consider when choosing an air purifier:
a. Room dimensions
For the best efficiency in the air purification process, it is important to know the size of the room (m²) or its volume (m³).
It is necessary that the entire volume of air in the room to pass through the air purifier up to 3 times in an hour for a good cleaning of the air.
The measurement system - CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) - ie the rate of "delivery" of purified air, helps consumers understand how effective such a device is in filtering various particles within a room of specific dimensions.
Basically, the higher the CADR value, the more air can be cleaned and, implicitly, a larger room. This does not mean that you have to buy devices with a CADR as high as possible, but only those devices that fit the spaces in which they are to be installed. Air purifiers are expensive devices on the one hand, on the other hand it is important to know that a higher CADR causes a higher noise level.
b. The prefilter
This filter captures the largest particles (such as animal hair dust and other impurities) and helps extend the life of other internal filters. The prefilter is usually reusable and washable.
c. HEPA Filter (High-efficiency particulate absorbing)
HEPA filters have been used since 1950 in applications that require contamination control, such as medical equipment, semiconductors, the pharmaceutical and food industries, and in hospitals, homes, and automobiles.
The HEPA Filter 11 (with an average retention of> 95% of particles) is the most used for household air purifiers and must be changed regularly every 6 to 8 months to obtain the best efficiency (according to construction standards).
Some purifiers may be equipped with HEPA 13 filters (with a retention of >99.95%), which have a higher efficiency than those equipped with HEPA 11 filters.
HEPA 14 filters are used less often, as they greatly reduce CADR and their efficiency compared to HEPA 13 is not significant for most household applications.
d. Activated carbon Filter
This filter is used to remove unpleasant odors, cooking smell, but also a wide range of harmful gases from the air (eg formaldehyde). The more activated carbon (Carbon Active) there is in the filter, the more efficiently it will stop these odors and gases.
Keep in mind that a heavier and thicker filter has more activated carbon, with a longer service life, better filtering and absorbing more harmful gases.
How does an air purifier work?
In short, an air purifier cleans the surrounding air by the means of a special filtration process that aims to eliminate microscopic particles. Basically, the fewer harmful particles in the air, the lower the chance of inhaling them. Without an air purifier, airborne contaminants get into the lungs and then into the bloodstream, which is an important argument for making the right decision regarding health safety.
Those who suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory illnesses, already know the unpleasant symptoms, such as eye irritation, coughing, sneezing, headaches caused by allergen irritants.
For example, the ragweed pollen particle usually measures between 15 and 25 microns, but can fragment into smaller particles with sizes between 0.5 and 4.5 microns. HEPA 13 filters retain pollen particles with sizes up to 0.3 microns, therefore the use of purifiers equipped with this type of filter is beneficial for people suffering from this type of allergy.
Of course, the efficiency of such a purifier also depends on other factors such as: the transfer of air from inside to outside and vice versa, the traffic in the room, the concentration of pollen particles, etc.
However, even if such problems do not occur, an improvement in comfort, ease of breathing or comfort can still be observed when using an air purifier indoors.
Air purifiers rely on a fan to pass polluted air through the unit filter and release it purified back into the room. Placing the device under a table, behind a sofa, near the wall or in a place that blocks this air flow will diminish its performance.
The best placement for purifiers is 2-3 meters away from any wall or body of furniture. This will give the device enough room to operate at full capacity.
In general, air purifiers come with a number of features and functions to make the interaction and user experience as pleasant as possible.
Digital control - this allows more precise settings for air quality control compared to a rotary switch or button design.
Adjustable ventilation speed - for manually or automatically adjusting the volume of recirculated air and controlling the noise level, ranging from low to high.
Filter replacement indicators – these indicators warn you when filters need to be replaced.
Programmable timer – this function automatically turns the device on or off (depending on the model) after a specific time interval, such as 2, 4, or 8 hours. This feature helps save energy and prevents the device from running continuously.
NightLight – helps to easily locate the air purifier inside a dark room. Also, this mode is suitable for situations where you do not want the light of the device to disturb during activities or during sleep.